Occupy Boston: Police Take Back Rose Kennedy Greenway; $150,000 Worth Of Shrubbery Saved
Things took an interesting turn after midnight in Boston early Tuesday morning, as police cleared a second protest site–the “North Camp”–at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Protesters were warned by police and Mayor Thomas Menino through fliers and bullhorn announcements that the area–which was serving as an overflow for occupiers who couldn’t fit into the already-packed first site at Dewey Square–would need to be emptied:
When protesters didn’t disperse, the police gave a final warning, then moved in:
ABC News reports that approximately 100 protesters were arrested, some of whom were members of Veterans for America:
Part of the reason for moving everyone out? According to the Associated Press:
A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made sure to note that this wasn’t just about shrubbery. The original organizers had been working with police for the first ten days of protests, but warned them recently that, “a new group, the anarchists, wanted to take control.” The Rose Kennedy Greenway requires a permit for protests–explained in a statement released last week by Nancy Brennan, the Executive Director–and Occupy Boston did not obtain one, so the police had an opening to clear people out. Davis later told WHDH’s Tim Caputo that protesters would be allowed to stay at the original site.
Outside of the images of veterans being thrown to the ground and American flags being inadvertently trampled, Boston seemed to have handled this as well as any city could, on both ends. The police gave ample warning, they allowed protesters to stay in the original spot (where the Occupy Boston folks have been allowed to plug in electrical equipment at no charge), and, of course, the shrubbery was protected. As ridiculous as it sounds to some people, it’s still $150,000 worth of something. That’s a nice house in most parts of the country. Brennan said in her statement that they’ve already worked the replacement of the Dewey Square lawn into the Greenway’s budget. The arrests were generally peaceful, and the Occupy Boston folks have already started a fund looking to raise $4,000 to bail out those arrested.
But the bigger picture now is what happens to these protests when they get too big for their original space? Occupy Boston obviously has a limited area in which to pitch tents and gather, and police have shown that they will draw a line at a certain point. Occupy Wall Street can likely branch out to sidewalks and nearby parks, but space in Manhattan, as anyone who lives there can tell you, is also hard to come by. As the movement spreads across the country, organizers are going to have to start thinking about what happens when this Occupy Boston problem hits, and the movement gets too popular for the space that will hold it.
(Image credit: Activestills.org)
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